Pare Gerou, from Arizona, U.S.A. I am a Greek American and love both Greece and Cohousing. During the pandemic, like so many others, I contemplated how to live my best life. I decided to marry my two passions and thus founded the first cohousing group in Greece! We are a multigenerational group, from all over the world and from Greece. Together, we are creating something more beautiful and special than I could have imagined. The combination of our group's abilities, talents, and our good luck in finding an amazing property, has made for a wonderful journey and bright future for our cohousing village in Greece. I am an attorney who specializes in immigration and representing refugees. In my role as the original founder as well as the project manager, I aspire to a researched, "best practices" approach to our project. I lived in cohousing and thus have learned from an amazing community, Touchstone, but I also like to read empirical studies, books, and articles about cohousing, as well as consult cohousing professionals and other group founders, in order to find the most successful ways to do things. Our group is fortunate enough to be attracting not only talented members but also lots of extraordinary supporters. I feel extremely grateful for the amazing people who have joined this group, the many more coming toward us each week, and the hundreds who have shown interest or lent a hand. Our members' collective talents are a brain trust that have grown my seed idea into a blossoming community representing our collective vision and values. As we further define our vision, values, design, and traditions, this community is developing an inspired identity of its own. It is rewarding to be part of something greater than yourself. You can find out about my career background and my time in cohousing at the bottom of this page (scroll to bottom or click here for the rest of my bio). You will find a letter of recommendation from my cohousing community here:
Eberhard, from Denmark Born on his grandparent's farm in the Black Forest near Stuttgart where he spent his childhood holidays. After a couple of years on farms in Germany, he moved to Denmark and finished the farmer's apprenticeship at one of the first organic farming schools. He then became a scholarship student in Ecuador for half a year. He became a self-employed organic dairy farmer on Zealand for 12 years and has three daughters. Besides milking cows, he also has experience with sheep and growing vegetables, strawberries, fruit, and Christmas trees! He was a long-term guest in the mid-eighties and returned as a member of the intentional community Svanholm. Svanhold is a collectively owned and driven organic estate near Skibby, and he lived there for 8 years. In addition to farming, he is a professional in the safety construction field and has experience in construction and maintenance of buildings during his life as a farmer and as partr of the building group at Svanholm. Eberahrd became involved in the Danish ecovillage association Landsforeningen Økosamfund, where several Danish cohousing communities are members, and he participated as Danish representative at general assemblies of the Global Ecovillage Network in Europe. He arranged tours of ecovillages in Germany and Italy and has visited other ecovillages in Spain, Portugal, Scotland and Greece. He studied Arctic Technology/Construction Engineering at DTU and lived for two years in Greenland, as well as for a semester in Fairbanks, Alaska. He works as a health & safety consultant in the construction sector for 9 years.
Shelley and Bill, Texas My name is Shelley . I am a dentist working in an all-female practice in Texas. I plan to retire in the next year or so. We have two grown children, a son (31) , who lives in California and works in the BioTech industry. Our daughter, (36) is a lawyer and married with two young daughters. She lives closer to us in Texas ( a mere 3 1/2 hours away). I grew up in El Paso, Texas where I met my husband, Bill. In college, I took a European Tour going to 14 countries in 54 days. Of all the countries I visited, Greece was the one that made an indelible impression on me. I have wanted to return for many years. After our children were grown, my husband and I vacationed in Greece and now we are both hooked. We love the people, the food, and the climate. (Which is strikingly like the climate in El Paso). As we have neared retirement, we have been interested in retiring to Greece . The Cohousing village concept intrigues us, and after we spent time with this wonderful, talented, supportive group and fell in love with the concept and the incredibly beautiful land, we decided to dive in and become equity members and be a part of this community. My hobbies include reading (I love historical fiction), Pilates, hiking (which I am told is the same thing as "walking") & travelling. We also like to cook and eat. We have 2 dogs that are both rescues of mixed and unknown heritage. (Why support a puppy mill when there are so many dogs needing homes?) We also like to play cards. especially Poker, Canasta, and cribbage. We like board other games, too - Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble, etc. I have an interest in farming, raising chickens, and goats, but have no background in that area and would like to learn. Most of my personality and beliefs, I inherited from my mother. She raised us as a single parent in the 60's and 70's when women had few rights. My father, an Army Intelligence Officer, died suddenly of a heart attack, leaving my Mom with 3 young children - aged 4, age 1, and a newborn - 2 months old. Mom just dug in and made a life for us - she worked as a typist to keep food on the table. She went back to school at night to get her teaching degree. I often fell asleep to the sound of her typing her research papers. We were latch-key kids and given a lot of responsibility at a young age. We did not have the luxury of being coddled. We were expected to work as soon as it was legally possible, and she insisted we go to college. ( I always had a job, even while in college). She wanted to prepare us (especially the girls) to not be dependent on anyone . She was a feminist of the original sort. She was not a nurturer, which I sometimes missed as a child, but she did prepare us for life and made us understand that we are not owed anything. She never complained about life being unfair. It is what it is. Pragmatic is the word to best describe her and that's how she approached everything in life. Sadly, she passed away in 2013 and I miss her. She was a force.
and Advisory Board Members
Advisory Board Member Robert William Peck, Canada Former Ambassador to Greece Recently retired after 35 years with Global Affairs Canada, Robert Peck has held a variety of positions in Canada, Greece, and abroad. At Headquarters, these included Press Secretary and Departmental Spokesperson to two Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Chief of Protocol of Canada. He was Canada’s Ambassador to the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria from 2004 to 2007, and Ambassador to the Hellenic Republic and High Commissioner to the Republic of Cyprus from 2011 to 2015. As Canada’s representative to both Algeria and the Hellenic Republic, former Ambassador Peck worked closely with the Canadian oil and gas and mining sectors. This involved advocacy at the ministerial and head of state/head of government levels and providing strategic advice on critical issues and emerging trends. Earlier in his career, he served in various diplomatic roles in Nigeria, Switzerland, and Greece. During a two-year leave of absence from the Government of Canada, Mr. Peck was Director of Corporate Communications and Investor Relations at CAE Inc., the global leader in aerospace simulation technology. Throughout his diplomatic career, Ambassador Peck has been a strong supporter of cultural diplomacy and worked closely with leading Canadian and international artists and organizations. As Ambassador to the Hellenic Republic he played a leading role in supporting the unprecedented and highly successful exhibition at the Canadian Museum of History in 2015: “The Greeks: From Agamemnon to Alexander the Great.” Mr. Peck was named in 2017 as an independent, non-executive member of the Board of Directors of Energean PLC, a leading independent oil and gas company in the Eastern Mediterranean. He is also actively involved in the voluntary sector as President of the Board of the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra (OSO), a member of the Canadian Institute in Greece (CIG), and an Honorary Director of The Hellenic Initiative (Canada). He continues to be engaged with several charitable organizations in Greece, including a local non-governmental organization that provides a safe haven for refugee minors on the Greek island of Lesvos.In 2010, he agreed also to dedicate himself voluntarily to the Michaëlle Jean Foundation as Executive Director until 2020. Promise kept. The position will be opened next July. Former Ambassador Peck has received numerous awards including the Canadian Foreign Minister’s Citation for Foreign Policy Excellence, the Minister’s Merit Award, a Citation from the Fondation Club Avenir for his exceptional contribution to Canada-Algeria relations, and the Grand Commander of the Order of the Phoenix conferred by the President of the Hellenic Republic.
Christos from Detroit Born, raised, and primarily residing within the epicenter of the U.S. and Global Automotive Industry, Christos has returned to Greece often throughout his life to enjoy summers there. Now 54 and with 2 beautiful children about to “launch,” the draw of Greece is stronger than just a “summer vacation.” Christos holds a BFA and an MA, both specializing in Industrial Design. The “First Chapter” of his career was with General Motors Design for 26 years. Within that time countless production and prototype projects came to fruition. Multiple foreign assignments were also a part of his time with GM. Prior to his design career, Christos and his parents worked in the family business of carwashes, real estate and other venture capital projects within the Southeastern Michigan region. He was destined to live a life around cars, be it washing, wrenching, designing or racing them… Now in the global design consulting business with 2D_3D_4D_DESIGN_LLC, Christos also can be found teaching many forms of product and transportation design in Detroit with Wayne State University and College for Creative Studies.
The Karhu-Jopasin Family: Vilma, Georgios, Aurora and Gabriel Finland and Now Greece ! The Karhu-Jopasin Family: Vilma, Georgios, Aurora and Gabriel The Karhu-Jopasin's are a family of four from Finland who just recently moved to Athens. Vilma and Georgios have two beautiful children, Aurora and Gabriel. Aurora is an active toddler who loves singing, dancing, climbing and counting in Finnish, English and Greek. Gabriel is a sweet, curious and calm 1-year old who is interested in learning more about the world around him. Vilma has a degree in English linguistics and has previously worked in university administration at Tampere University, focusing on exchange studies and international Master's degree programmes. She has been blessed to have had the opportunity to travel, study and work in different countries. She is now home with the kids and also works as a freelance translator (FI-EN) when she has time. She played volleyball for 16 years and has now taken up kickboxing. She also enjoys spending time in nature either hiking, downhill skiing or surfing (surfing skills are rusty though!). Among other things, Georgios (or Georgi) has a background working at the Finnish national broadcasting company YLE as a media journalist. Georgi is an entrepreneur-minded truth seeker and an observer of people. Due to his past at YLE and his curiosity to explore, he has been exposed to many things and has learned from those experiences a lot. He is now working remotely from home for a Greek company. On his free time he produces music or listens to podcasts. The family values natural approaches to health as well as strengthening a well-communicating and loving family unit. Second hand stores and relaxed jazz music on Saturday mornings are their thing. They also have experience in community building in Finland, where they were part of trying to set up two different types of communities. The first would have been a cohousing community in the Finnish archipelago and the second a commune for families with children located in the countryside. They are grateful for the lessons learned from their previous experiences and want to contribute to creating a safe, thriving and diverse multigenerational community in the Peloponnesos .
Barbara & James, Yoni & Rebecca from Zurich Switzerland, Tel Aviv Israel, New Zealand, United States Barbara and James – we are a professional couple actively exploring co-housing as a retirement option after living and working in the USA, New Zealand and Switzerland. James is originally from Christchurch, New Zealand and Barbara is from Spokane, WA, USA and we have been living in Geneva, Switzerland since 2002. We met and married in Hawaii where we both studied at the University of Hawaii – Political Science (James) and Geography and Environment (Barbara). With careers in advising business on sustainability (James) and providing special needs education (Barbara), we have an international family with daughters, their partners and grandchildren in Sweden and Israel (see picture). Barbara has been investigating co-housing for a number of years and was excited to discover the Greek Village Co-Housing project. We see this as a fabulous opportunity to scale down our impacts, live much more sustainably, while contributing to this “start-up” multi-generational community at the very heart of the Mediterranean. Barbara is interested in supporting the Greek Village community design while James feels he can assist on budget and finance. We will be active in the community on-line meetings and networks as explorers over the coming months and will attend the community meeting in May 2023.
I'm a retired chef/owner. My last business was a community-supported local, sustainable breakfast and lunch cafe near Charlotte, NC. I have taught kitchen skills and written about food for most of my adult life. A stint in the specialty coffee industry should tell you how serious I am about quality coffee. I was in the high-end antique oriental rug business for 15 years. I always maintained a part-time business as a massage therapist. I have run political campaigns, and in my early years, I was a custom jeweler. Every former employee and co-worker will agree that my project mantra is Less Talk, More Action. Currently, I manage social media accounts for skydiving drop zones around the US. I am lucky to work for a fantastic marketing company that allows me to operate from anywhere. I have worked many jobs, met interesting and inspiring people, and see Co-housing as a natural next step in life.
Zoi from Scotland & Greece, Nahuel from Argentina and Leni from all of the above! We are a family made up of various countries, languages and cultures looking to make a home in the Mediterranean. With a great love for Greece, the country where Zoi was born, we turned our search there. That coupled with a strong desire to live in an intentional community, particularly one of co-housing, we were delighted to find GVC. Zoi was predominately raised in Scotland and is an English teacher. Nahuel was born and raised in Argentina and is a programmer. Leni’s work is play and we prioritise our time so that we can spend as much of it as possible with her. We love travelling, the seaside, summertime, animals, going for long walks in nature, good company, good food and dancing. We are very excited and grateful to be part of this community of like-minded people in the heart of Greece!
Our original founder, Pare Gerou, is a Greek American who fell in love with Greece while spending her childhood summers with family on Lesvos. She received her law degree from University of Virginia Law School and enjoyed a career in refugee law, as a Director of a Refuge Resettlement Agency, a Clinical Law Professor, solo practitioner, and refugee adjudicator for USCIS. She returned recently to Greece to develop a successful Greek legal aid organization for refugees on Lesvos and in Athens. Her Greek NGO, developed fully from idea to completed project, continues to thrive with an annual budget of over a million dollars. She also has experience living in cohousing for many years and found the experience of living in cohousing meaningful and transformative. Having a founder with cohousing experience is helpful not only to the creation of something successful, but also to the ability to vet the bona fides and ethics of the founder and group. The cohousing community of Touchstone has provided a letter of recommendation that speaks to her character here.
Her experiences in Greece as well as in cohousing inspired her to marry her two loves and form the first group devoted to creating cohousing in Greece-- Greek Village Cohousing. This project, amidst plentiful property sales and tax and visa incentives, is ideally timed. The need for cohousing in general has also struck a chord with many during this pandemic's time of reflection about the important things in life.